A convicted killer who tore a hole in two fences with his hands to escape from a US prison, abducted a woman and fled the state has been captured.
Officials were stunned by the brazen escape on Sunday night (local time) of Michael David Elliot, who had a record of good behaviour during his 20 years in custody. He wore a white civilian kitchen uniform to evade security and blend in with snow at the Ionia Correctional Facility in Michigan, prisons spokesman Russ Marlan said.
Indiana State Police Sergeant Ron Galaviz said Elliot was in LaPorte County when a sheriff's deputy investigating a vehicle theft tried to make a traffic stop. The suspect ran, but authorities captured him.
Fences at the prison were equipped with motion sensors to alert guards. The fences also carry electric current to shock anyone who touches them.
"It appears that did not happen. ... He was not zapped with electricity, and he was not picked up by the motion sensors," Marlan said.
Once outside the prison, Elliot, 40, abducted a woman and stole her Jeep. The woman, who was not hurt, escaped late on Sunday when he stopped for gas some 160km to the south. The woman's Jeep was found abandoned nearby on Monday.
An alert was issued to law enforcement nationwide. The woman told police that Elliot was armed with a box cutter and a hammer and had said he wanted to get as far from the prison as possible.
"We had dog teams. We had a helicopter from the state police," said Michigan Corrections Department Director Dan Heyns. "The response was good, but he'd left the area by the time we were mobilised totally 100 per cent."
Nothing in Elliot's record suggested he might escape, said Heyns, who added: "This is entirely a one-man operation."
The woman who was abducted was able to call emergency services from a concealed cellphone while Elliott was pumping gas, authorities said. She ran to a restroom and locked herself inside. Elliot knocked on the door, but she stayed inside until police arrived.
Elliot was discovered missing from the prison about 9.30pm on Sunday, probably 2 hours after he escaped, Marlan said.
"There was a perimeter vehicle with an armed officer who was circling the facility during this time period. (Elliot) was able to evade or avoid detection," Marlan said.
Elliot was serving life in prison without parole for fatally shooting four people and burning down their house in 1993, according to court records. Elliot and his accomplices were trying to steal money from a drug dealer, police said.